Ghostface Killah was listed as the headliner at B.B. King's on Friday night in New York, but the Wu-Tang Clan MC played the master of ceremonies of an old-school rap celebration. Before Ghostface took the stage a little before 2:30 AM and brought out special guests Raekwon and Brand Nubian, upstart rappers Freddie Gibbs and Homeboy Sandman, as well as veteran Craig G., briefly took the stage to separately salute the hip-hop purists in the crowd.
Opener Sheek Louch delivered a fierce set that was highlighted by the surprise arrival of his LOX companion Styles P. The duo urgently ripped through LOX cuts like "Wild Out" and "Money, Power & Respect" before Louch offered a few songs for the ladies, "all 20 of them," in the male-dominated crowd.
Video: Ghostface, Raekwon and Cappadonna perform ODB tribute
Despite the late hour, every audience member's W was raised up when Ghostface Killah burst onto the stage and opened with the one-two punch of "Run" and "Nutmeg." Wearing a red-and-white ski jacket and red Yankees cap, the veteran sounded energized as cuts like "Be Easy" and "Ice Cream" captivated the tightly packed crowd.
Ghostface's solo showcase only lasted a handful of songs, however, as Raekwon arrived onstage to a deafening roar. Along with Wu cohort Cappadonna, Ghost and Rae tore through tracks like "New Wu" and "Mighty Healthy" with smiles rarely leaving their faces. "We could do this all fucking morning," Raekwon told the crowd.
The crowd received another surprise when New York rap trio Brand Nubian joined the party after Ghostface introduced them as a major influence. The Wu-Tang members traded rhymes with the old-school group, and the crowd fed off the good vibes by dancing and rapping along with them. Ghostface's show likely ran the latest of any CMJ showcase on Friday night, but it was a throwback delight for those who rocked through the wee hours.